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First-person reports from the stands
Choice of game
Marquee game of the Irish summer? Check. Biggest cricket game ever held here? Check. Chance to beat The Oul Enemy, use up the last of the holidays and catch a rays of sun? Check, check and checkmate. This game was simply unmissable for an Irish cricket fan.
Ireland, except not the Irishmen playing for England. But including the Englishman playing for Ireland. But definitely including the Irishman who used to play for England but now plays for Ireland. It was a complex day for nationalities.
William Porterfield's sublime century left many scratching their heads as to how he's had such a dismal season, and along with Tim Murtagh, he had left England reeling away behind their neighbours from across the Irish Sea. Alas, Eoin Morgan did what Eoin Morgan does best and steadied his rapidly sinking ship before directing it full speed at its target destination.
One thing I'd have changed
The result. While it was an awesome display of hitting that Morgan and Ravi Bopara produced, you could feel the crowd giving up hope after about 35 overs. A wicket there followed by an England collapse would have been a perfect end to the day, whilst still giving us a chance to watch the exhibition.
Face-off I relished
Eoin Morgan v the home crowd. Morgan incensed many Irish supporters with his comments during the week, particularly in what appears to be some dubious tapping up of Paul Stirling as a future England player. The crowd gave him some stick for most of the day but warm applause was to be found upon reaching his hundred. It was mostly deserved.
Murtagh's demolition job of James Taylor's stumps brought a huge roar from the crowd, England were hurt, and they smelled blood. Kevin O'Brien kicked the stump out of the ground for added emphasis.
Michael Carberry got a right rollicking from the crowd following his series of comical drops, spills and slips. Every ball he collected recieved (slightly) sarcastic hoots from the stand he was in front of. He seemed to shrug it off every time until the ball made its way back to him.
This was a crowd unlike ever seen before at a home Ireland cricket match; 10,000 spilled in Malahide cricket ground and brought with them good cheer and friendliness. A Mexican wave wound its way around the stands during England's middle overs, while one brave man decided to lead an entire tier in a cheerleading chant of I-R-E-L-A-N-D by himself. He wasn't half bad.
Fancy dress index
Not too much on show on a Tuesday morning but fair play to the Irish sponsors RSA, who handed out free Ireland t-shirts to about half the crowd. It was hard not to feel at home in the sea of green.
I fully recommend that whoever was in charge of music cues be sacked. Late entries, entries during play, clashing two songs together, everything was heard from him (and hopefully won't be heard again). The local clubs' junior teams gave a frantic exhibition during the interval and it was hard not to get a giggle watching seven-year-olds try to reverse-paddle.
A fantastic first outing for Fortress Malahide, with excellent seating and availability of refreshments. The pitch looked a good one too. Hopefully its excellent standard will help Ireland progress even further. The outfield had its (literal) ups and downs, with several balls bobbling unpredicably at times, but this should improve in future. A second scoreboard screen would be useful too for those sitting right beside the only one.
This day was more about the future of Irish cricket than the match itself, but both lived up to expectations tremendously. This day will have boosted the image of cricket on these shores by immeasureable amounts, with many at the game making their first visit to such a match. For the first time in my life following Irish cricket, being there and watching it unfold seemed just that little bit cool.
Marks out of ten
10. High scores, Irishmen dominating and a day that will go down in the history books - what more could you want for 40 quid? On a lesser occasion the relative lack of entertainment may have reduced the enjoyment but none of that mattered today, today was about the future, and the future is green.
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